I believe family is not limited to genetics or ancestry, but is defined by a deep connection that has the power to bring people together from opposite ends of the world. Family is defined by love; a love that grows, develops, and ignores heritage, ethnicity, and common sense. This belief stems from my relationship with my younger sister.
I remember the first time I saw Kelly. It wasn’t in a hospital room or in my own house. She wasn’t a newborn baby and she didn’t look anything like me. It was in the airport, when my parents walked off the plane after a two week trip to China. It was then that I saw Kelly Wu Li-Qi, a six-month old baby girl. I was three years-old, and the sudden shift of attention made me uncomfortable. My Dad says he could see the little gears spinning in my head as the realization sunk in of how this was going to affect my life. My first full sentence after meeting my new baby sister was, “Hey I want to be carried too!” In fact, my parents often recall my loving statement a few days later, “Okay, you can send that baby back to China now.” As we have grown, however, our relationship has strengthened and developed.
The first time I had to define our relationship was when I was in the fourth grade. A boy in my class had seen our family and asked, “Who is that girl?” It didn’t occur to me to say anything other than, “She’s my sister.” I can still remember his puzzled face and the stream of questions that followed: Where is she from? What is it like living with her? Isn’t she your “step” sister, not a real sister? I answered each time that she was the same as a biological sister, she was Kelly.
Although my confidence in our relationship was firm, Kelly lacked the assuredness that she was the same as the rest of us. Her constant question of, “Do you love me?” showed us most conspicuously her doubts as to whether she belonged. Our differences in looks also made her uneasy, and she often commented on peoples’ questioning stares. Yet, Kelly is not an addition to our family; she is one-fifth of our family. Without her our family would not be what it is. It would be something completely different. As Kelly grew up the questioning subsided and she began to embrace her heritage and the differences and similarities between us.
My idea of family and the connections of humanity have been shaped by my relationship with Kelly. If someone from a different ethnicity, place, and life can become such an important part of my family, I know humanity is connected beyond communication and continents. It is connected by love, and Kelly is proof of that. She is an irreplaceable part of our family, and that love and connection we have developed and strengthened is what makes her my sister, and nothing less.